European editorialists Wednesday continued to comment on US plans to withdrawals troops from Europe and Asia.
The Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace, which appears in the French city of Strasburg, wrote that the American decision to withdraw the GIs from Germany affects the whole of Europe. It gives the opportunity for a genuine assessment of what a real European defense policy should be. "Europe must look for a new orientation in as far as NATO will be weakened in the long run. Even if those who support national sovereignty don't like it, a new military integration will be needed, and that is currently unthinkable without political integration."
The Austrian Salzburger Nachrichten commented that the withdrawal is not a punishment for Berlin's opposition to the Iraq war, even if that's what some conservatives in the US would have liked to have seen. The re-deployment reflects rather the fundamentally changed world political situation. Russia is no longer an enemy. "One and a half decades after the end of the Cold War, American troop concentrations in the middle of Europe are an anachronism."
The Spanish paper El Pais pointed out that the withdrawals also affect Asia, and that the decision there doesn't make as much sense. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan will have far less understanding for a US military withdrawal in the light of the threat from North Korea and China, the paper wrote.
The British paper The Guardian noted that fears that the USA might adopt an isolationist policy are now anachronistic. "In Washington's strategy, defense of the heartland requires a global reach." "The only powers able to challenge this aim, Russia and China, have signed up to the war on terror and their concerns are muted -- at least for now." But The Guardian warned, "For them, America's assertive global role will be a salient and disquieting feature of an uncertain new world."
De Volkskrant from the Netherlands wrote that the announcement by President Bush is directed at the election campaign. Peace and security play an important role in the campaign, and a speech in front of veterans in Ohio offers the perfect opportunity for a fanfare.